If you use Google or Ebay, there are changes afoot

By | May 17, 2021
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This week I wanted to let you know about two technical changes that are happening at Google and Ebay.  Ebay’s changes are already underway, and Google’s are coming “soon”…

Ebay is switching away from using PayPal

If you don’t use Ebay, or only use it to buy things, then this won’t really affect you.  If you have a PayPal account, you’ll still be able to pay for things on Ebay using it.  But you’ll also have the option to use a credit or debit card directly through Ebay, or use a different method like Google Pay or Apple Pay.

The bigger change is for people who sell through Ebay.  Previously, you had to set up a seller’s PayPal account and all your payments went through that account.  Ebay are scrapping that system now and asking sellers to provide bank account details.  Rather than being paid via PayPal, you’ll get your money paid straight into your bank account.

So, should you be worried about the changes?  Short answer: “no”.

You see, PayPal and Ebay were so closely linked in the first place because they were part of the same company.  It always felt like a bit of a swizz, actually – you had to pay fees both to Ebay for selling your things and to PayPal for handling the money, even though they were the same business!  However, PayPal became its own independent company in 2015, so it makes sense for Ebay to handle their own payments now.

It makes the fees system simpler (and slightly cheaper) – you just pay one set of fees to Ebay.  And it makes it easier to handle any complaints over payments.  Ebay have worked with another very experienced payments company to make sure everything is as safe and secure as possible, so you don’t have to worry about sharing your bank account details with them.  It’s similar to setting up a Direct Debit with an electricity company.

Google wants everyone to use “2FA” – two-factor authentication

If you have a Google account, you can sign in to any device with it using your email address and password.  That’s handy, because it means you can check your Gmail emails or look at photos you’ve taken from any computer.  It also makes it easy to switch phones or tablets – you can just sign in to your shiny new device with your Google account details and all your saved photos, contacts, emails and whatever else will be there without any faffing about.

But to make that system as secure as possible, Google are encouraging everyone to set up two-factor authentication.  It means that when you try to sign in on a new device, Google will check that it’s really you by sending you a text message, a notification on your phone or an email to your back-up email address.

It’s an extra layer of security that’s well worth having – and most people will very rarely need to use it.  I’ve had two-factor on both my work and my personal Google accounts for years.

In fact, Google think it’s so important that “soon” (that’s all they said, so I can’t be more specific, sorry) they’re going to start turning it on by default where they can.  That means that if you’ve given Google a back-up phone number or alternative email address, they’ll use those details to check that it’s really you – unless you ask them not to.

They’ve been very clear that it isn’t compulsory (unlike an Apple account, where you get no choice these days).  You’ll be able to opt out if you really don’t want this extra level of security.  They haven’t explained how yet, but as soon as I know any more, I’ll give you all an update.

This is a good time to check that any details you’ve got saved to your Google account are up to date, though. To do that:

  1. Open your Google security settings, here.  Your web browser might recognise your account automatically, but if not, click or tap the “Sign in” button to sign in.
  2. Scroll down on the screen a bit until you get to “Ways we can verify it’s you”.
  3. Check that any “recovery” details you’ve given them are up to date.  Ideally, you’d have a mobile phone number in there, and an email address that you can get to without signing in to your Google account.

If you don’t have any recovery details saved, then Google won’t be able to turn on two-factor for you.  There’s a risk that you could get locked out of your account if you ever forget your password, though.

Well that’s it from me this week.

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